Teak Oil vs Danish Oil: What is The Difference?

We like oil finishes here at Obsessed Woodworking and consider them an excellent wood treatment.  They allow the finest qualities of the wood grain to show and add a professional look to our projects.

We’ve written of oil finishes in the past, including a piece on Watco Danish Oil.  Oil finishes can be used on all types of wood except exterior oak, and there are many different oil finish products to choose from.

However, there are differences to be aware of among those many products beyond just appearance.

Teak oil and Danish oil are both blends:

  • Teak oil is a blend of linseed oil, Tung oil, mineral spirits, and varnish. It has nothing to do with the teak tree.  It is primarily suitable for exterior wooden surfaces, most notably for teak wood.
  • Danish oil is often made of tung oil, rosewood oil, or polymerized linseed oil, although there is no specifically defined formula for the making of it. As a consequence, its constitution varies among manufacturers.

What is Watco Danish Oil?

Watco 242219 Danish Oil Wood Finish, Low VOC, Pint, Natural

The subject of a past article here mentioned above, this is a wood finish containing both a penetrating oil and a varnish.  It may be based on linseed oil, or tung oil, or both.  It may also contain mineral spirits and synthetic resins, and it contains varnish.

The varnish in it will give your wood surface good protection, while the linseed oil or tung oil will give your wood that wonderful appearance oils can provide.  We like Watco Danish oil.  It’s easily applied with a cloth, and 2 coats will usually be enough.  Allow it to dry for 8 – 10 hours.

Rust-Oleum Watco 242219 Danish Oil Wood Finish, Low VOC, Pint, Natural
  • Ideal for use on a variety of indoor wood surfaces including bare, stripped or sanded; not...
  • Low VOC, oil-based formula of blended oil & varnish penetrates deeply into wood pores for ultimate...
  • Dries to the touch in as little as 6 hours and covers up to 85 sq ft
  • Easy application and protects against spills, abrasion, chipping and peeling; many projects can be...

Colron Danish Oil is another brand that provides that same combination of protection and appearance for your wood.  Suitable for both interior and exterior wood applications, it provides a tough, durable, and water-resistant finish that is ideal for wood kitchen worktops, furniture, and doors.

Will Danish Oil Darken Woods?

Danish oil works by seeping into the wood surface to which it is applied.  It will darken the wood slightly and can even be combined with oil-based pigments to create wood stains. 

It dries to a hard finish and builds up that finish over multiple coats.  That hard finish provides resistance to liquids, too, making it a good choice for wood surfaces in your kitchen.  It is water, food, and alcohol-resistant, as well as food-safe and odorless.  Allowed to dry thoroughly, it is resistant to flaking, chipping, and cracking.  This is true indoors and outdoors.

Danish oil is also an excellent choice on floors for these reasons.  It can provide a wonderful shine to floors without making them slippery, and it dries hard enough to protect floors from liquid spills.

Can You Use Danish Oil Over Teak Oil?

This is one of those “yes you can, but…“ questions.  Because they are similar in chemical composition, you can use Danish oil over teak oil to get a more glossy wood finish.  But Danish oil is better used as a base coat.  It also presents a slightly different external appearance.

Can You Use Danish Oil Instead of Teak Oil?

Of course.  Teak oil will dry to a matte finish, whereas Danish oil will dry to a satin or semi-gloss finish.  Each is distinguished from linseed oil and tung oil, which are all-natural, in that teak oil and Danish oil are blends, as we mentioned above.  And Danish oil will tend to darken wood slightly when used.

STAR BRITE Premium Golden Teak Oil - Sealer, Preserver, & Finish for Outdoor Teak & Other Fine Woods - Step 3 - 16 OZ (085116PW)

Teak oil is not food safe, though, and should not be used in wood kitchen surfaces where food is present; on the other hand, Danish oil is food safe and a good choice for wood work surfaces in your kitchen.

Can You Put Teak Oil over Danish Oil?

As we noted earlier, Danish oil is the better choice as a base coat on bare wood surfaces.  So, the answer is yes; you can put teak oil over Danish oil.

However, we’re not really sure why you would do that?  We always use the same oil on our finishes from beginning coat to end coat and make sure we have sufficient quantity to do so.  Assuming you do, too, it’s not likely you would put a coat of teak oil over Danish oil.

Does Teak Oil Make Wood Waterproof?

Does Teak Oil Make Wood Waterproof

Another difference between teak oil and Danish oil is that while teak oil is naturally resistant to water damage but not waterproof, Danish oil provides a much stronger resistance to water damage when fully dried. 

Teak oil, then, is not waterproof.  It will provide some protection against water damage but not fully protect it.  It is the polymerized linseed oil in Danish oil that provides greater protection; the polymerized particles dry hard and bind together, thus providing that greater protection.

Can You Use Danish Oil on Teak Wood?

Danish oil is an excellent choice for indoor teak furniture, and many woodworkers consider it the best choice.  Teak furniture should be oiled every 3-4 months, and you can apply it with a lint-free cloth. 

After oiling, the teak wood should be rubbed with a dry, absorbent cloth to rub off all the excess oil.  The wood should feel as dry after this as it did before you applied the oil.

Well-cared for teak wood furniture will change color slightly, and its grain will become more prominent after oiling.  New teak wood has a light yellow color, while aged teak will become a rich and deep orange hue.

What Is The Best Oil To Use On Garden Furniture?

What Is The Best Oil To Use On Garden Furniture

Many consider teak oil the best choice for garden furniture.  It will provide excellent weather and water resistance, help teak wood maintain its patina, and protect against UV exposure.

However, others do consider teak oil to be harmful to teak wood garden furniture.  It will begin to evaporate after a few weeks and, in doing so, can take a bit of the teak wood’s natural oils with it.  Those who hold to this position recommend, instead, the use of a teak sealer product as being more effective in protecting the wood, delaying the effects of age, and extending the life of the furniture.

Nonetheless, there is much to be said for using Danish oil on outdoor furniture, as well.  It, too, is water-resistant and provides protection against UV exposure.  It is also heat and alcohol resistant.  It gives good protection to all exterior wood use.  Typically, 3 coats of Danish oil are recommended by manufacturers.

Is Danish Oil Danish?

During the second half of the 20th century, Scandinavian furniture began being exported around the world.  It became very popular with its attractive, low-sheen finish.  This finish became “Danish Oil” because of where it came from and was used as a marketing tool to promote both the oil and the furniture.

Scandinavian furniture

Scandinavian Teak Oil played off this marketing effort right along with Scandinavian furniture and Danish oil.  The popularity of all things Scandinavian during this time lifted everything to do with the furniture, Danish oil, and Scandinavian teak oil.  There are even Danish Teak Oil products available too.

They all are simply a blended formula of oils (linseed or tung or rosewood, for instance) and other chemicals, all offering protection and preservation of wood surfaces. 

We’ll finish with a simple and straightforward list of differences between teak and Danish oils:

  • Finish: Danish oil is satin or semi-gloss, while teak oil is matte;
  • Water protection: Danish oil = excellent, teak oil = good;
  • Color change: Danish oil = slightly darkens, teak oil = less color change;
  • Coats on bare wood: each should have three;
  • Food Safety: Danish oil is food safe, teak oil is not;
  • Indoor/Outdoor: Danish oil in the home for furniture, floors, and kitchen worktops; teak oil on garden furniture, fencing, etc.

Using oils as a wood finish is common and preferred by woodworkers because of their ability to preserve and protect woods.  Although this article is specifically about teak oil and Danish oil, we think most woodworkers would simply choose linseed oil as the best choice for outdoor wood surfaces.

Last update on 2023-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4 thoughts on “Teak Oil vs Danish Oil: What is The Difference?”

  1. I have just bought a beautiful indoor teak bookcase (untreated) and have applied 2 coats of teak oil (thinking ‘teak oil’ for ‘teak furniture’). However, have been reading that this is a terrible idea (as it could lead to mold and mildew to build up). Should I start again with danish oil or something else? If so, how best to clean the oil residue – with mineral spirit or just sand it down?


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